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Thanksgiving Day: Evolving Significance But Consistent Gratitude

If you are fond of watching Netflix shows like me, then I am confident you have seen them celebrating Thanksgiving by eating turkey with their family. It might shock you, but Thanksgiving goes beyond just eating turkey XD. Well, as the name suggests, Thanksgiving means conveying thanks to god. 

The Plymouth colonists (English puritans who were then known as pilgrims) and Wampanoag Americans used to celebrate together by sharing feasts to celebrate their bountiful harvest as a gesture to thank god. This day is celebrated today as Thanksgiving Day.

The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.

William Blake: English poet & painter

However, later the essence of Thanksgiving changed, and it was then celebrated to cherish military wins over native Americans. The Thanksgiving days were then determined by the governors and priests until one day George Washington, as the president, gave the day for thanksgiving celebrations in 1789. Thanksgiving lost its charm after that since most of the presidents following Washington ignored it. 

The holiday’s revival took place in 1863 when president Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November to be celebrated as Thanksgiving Day during the Civil War, making the holiday an American tradition. However, that did not last long either. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt moved the holiday up by one week during The Great Depression in order to encourage retail sales. But many Americans did not accept the change and even mocked it by calling it ‘Franksgiving.’ Due to this, the final Thursday of November was again officially declared as Thanksgiving Day by the passing of a joint resolution by the US congress in 1941. 

The history of Thanksgiving has had ups and downs and evolved in its meaning and significance as well, but today, the holiday is majorly celebrated as a way to get together with family, be thankful for everything around, and of course, enjoy the turkey. Turkey became synonymous with Thanksgiving Day because it was a crucial part of the menu of the first-ever Thanksgiving. 

According to the renowned book ‘Holiday Symbols and Customs’ by Sue Ellen Thompson, the Plymouths and Wampanoags hunted and ate large birds since they were readily available and easier to capture. As they became a major source of nutrition for early Americans, turkey made its way to the Thanksgiving dinner as well. As per the National Turkey Federation, approximately 46 million turkeys are served every Thanksgiving. Now that’s a big number to tell how important they are for the day. It’s not just the turkey, but pumpkin pies, nuts, mashed potatoes, corn, stuffing, and beans that are savored too on the day. 

Thanksgiving Day is a celebration for North America, and South America has yet to become familiar with it. Canada and Liberia have their own Thanksgiving, which is celebrated on October’s second Monday and the first Thursday in November respectively. 

All and all, Thanksgiving Day is about celebrating the blessing around you, showing gratitude, and appreciating your loved ones. So next time you see a turkey being roasted in a famous show, you’ll know why it is being relished so much! 

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Mental Health Support Groups in India That Can Help You Fight That Feeling of Low

2 days back, I met a friend after 7 months. Before this, the last time we met, we talked about life, the future, and personal lives. I could sense a certain discomfort in her voice. I still remember her trembling voice, and the way she tried to divert my attention toward how tasty the food is instead of discussing her career plan made me sense something was wrong. I did not want to make the situation even more agonizing for her, so I posed the question indirectly about how she is doing in terms of both physical and mental health. The utter silence that came after that said a lot more than words. 2 days ago, when I met her again, I could see the difference. I could figure out she was at ease. This time she opened up about it and shared that she was having anxiety and panic attack issues since last year. It took her courage to open up about it without fearing judgment, and she was more comfortable with herself than ever, and for this, she is thankful to the support group she has been a part of for the last 3 months. 

I am a UPSC aspirant and it hasn’t been easy for me. I started overthinking and that’s when I triggered anxiety. It was rough to deal with it all by myself. I still deal with it by myself but the difference is I have learned to talk about it and that has helped me a lot.” – Kanak Solanki 

She further adds, “It is very easy to succumb to the darkness, I was there myself. My people (support group) pulled me from there and I can safely say that I am in the grey area now, continuously walking towards the light.”

What are mental health support groups in India? 

In dictionary terms, it means a group of people gathering and discussing similar problems they go through. The talking and sharing of experiences make it easier to deal with them. But if we see it from a different perspective- it is a source of encouragement and motivation that most of us long for. You can relate to one another, you empathize with them instead of sympathizing, and most importantly, you let them know that you understand. This validation and support can do a lot for one’s mental health. 

Mental health support groups in India that can help you fight that feeling of low

Mental health red flags are easy to notice but hard to acknowledge. Feeling low is something that is considered normal. Yes, ups and downs are a part of life, but if the feeling of ‘low-liness’ is always there underneath, then something might not be right. Fret not, there are mental support help groups in India that can help you deal with this feeling.

Through Thick and Thin (TheMindClan)

As the name suggests, this mental health support group in India is a community that discusses and acknowledges day-to-day problems of one’s life before they become something big. The group focus on both prevention as well as healing. 

The Buddy Circle (Meetup)

Buddy circle is a mental health support group in India that narrows down its focus to three things. Positive growth, honest conversations, and socializing. The community can help you gain energy or provide you with a pep talk, whatever is needed. 

Conflict and Emotional Management Group (TheMindClan)

Healthy relationships take time, effort, and a lot of understanding. All of these can be daunting & might affect one’s mental health. This group understands that well. They help you foster healthy relationships without putting excruciating pressure on yourself. 

  • Website link 
  • Languages: English & Hindi 
  • Meetings: Weekly 
  • City: Gurugram and Delhi 

Stress Management Support group (Healing Studio)

Stress is the underlying cause of so many problems, both physical and mental. But it is also an essential component of human life. This group helps you in finding effective ways of dealing with stress and ensures that you do not exhaust yourself with all the stress. 

Work-Life Balance Group (TheMindClan) 

An unbalanced life can make one feel incompetent, eventually making one feel low. This group helps you cope with daily life and also in finding balance in it. 

  • Website link 
  • Language: English & Hindi 
  • Meetings: Weekly 
  • City: Delhi and Gurugram 

Mental health is much more than just feeling low. One can be dealing with many other problems, and we understand that. So here are the links to a few websites that can help you find specific mental health support groups in India. 

Hope these health groups help you find the support and community you need to reclaim your mental health and well-being and lead a happy and healthy life that you deserve so much!

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Friendship Day: What Millennials & GenZ Have To Say About Friendship?

The magnetic effervescence of friendship is what adds the thrill to our life. It is commonly heard that a friend in need is a friend indeed however, the term friends and friendship is subjective to every individual. In ‘Kuchh Kuchh Hota Hai,’ Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan described friendship as love. Let’s hear what millennials have to say about friendship. 

Stuti Choudhary

Stuti Choudhary
Stuti Choudhary

“True friendship is to be happy in the achievements of each other and surround yourself with such great people who’ll be happier than oneself to see the other one hustle. True friends are timeless, and the distance doesn’t matter at all. Friendships that feel the same each time you meet are friendships that last forever.”

Kanak Solanky

Kanak Solanky
Kanak Solanky

“For me, friendship is a constant comfort and the only thing helping me survive all the hardships of life. You can be yourself, and still they won’t judge or leave.”

Chinmay Kapoor

Chinmay Kapoor
Chinmay Kapoor

“Friendship is loyalty, honesty, and no filters. You have to be there, for someone who was there for you when you needed them, no matter what has gone wrong.”

Sakshi

Sakshi
Sakshi

“Friendship to me is someone believing the best in you at all times. It’s someone who pushes you to be the best version of yourself and is the first to stand and clap for you when you succeed. One thing which I like about friendship is that it’s our gift to pick and choose, and build the friendship by knowing the value of the bond you share with each other.”

Aman Balhra

Aman Balhra
Aman Balhra

“Actually, we can’t define friendship because it’s a bond we can’t define in words but still, I’ll try
So friendship for me is that when a person is sitting with his friends and he is happy, no matter what if they are sitting quietly, not talking to each other, but the presence of that particular person is actually making that guy happy. Yeah, that is what friendship is for me.”

Tanya Kashyap

Tanya Kashyap
Tanya Kashyap

“It’s that beautiful place that will always remind you that you’re not alone at any point in life and gives you those unforgettable memories that you will cherish for a lifetime. Friendship is not always fun and frolic but also the fights and tears that make you realize how blessed you are to have someone who will stick by your side no matter what. If you’ve found the right people, keep them forever.”

Prateek Tyagi

Prateek Tyagi
Prateek Tyagi

“Real friends stick by your side when you’re going through the process, even when you can’t meet them frequently. They just have faith in you. Real ones stay no matter what.”

Mayank Lumba

Mayank Lumba
Mayank Lumba

“Friendship, for me, is something that stands the test of time, unfortunate events, and misunderstandings. Friends are an extended family that always has your back and having good friends makes you feel blessed and grateful.”

Raghavendra Chauhan

Raghavendra Chauhan
Raghavendra Chauhan

“Friendship for me is a relationship we get into by our choice. The ones who are eternal regardless of the situation”.

These were some quite interesting takes on friendship! Clearly, the meaning of friendship is different for everyone. On this friendship day, tell your friends what their friendship means to you.

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Eid-al-Adha: The Festival of Love, Sacrifice & Devotion

‘Eid Mubarak’ 

With festivals come history, stories, myths, lots of meals, and of course a platter full of love. Eid al-Adha is called the festival of sacrifice, celebrated by Muslims worldwide with great fervor and gaiety. The story of Eid al-Adha is about devotion, faith, and utmost belief in Allah. 

Prophet Ibrahim started having dreams where he was being instructed to sacrifice his son to Allah. The dreams disturbed him because how can he lose his beloved son? How can he sacrifice him? That’s when he divulged it to his son, without second thoughts his son asked him to follow the commands of their god. 

“Oh my father,” Ismail (as) told Ibrahim (as), “Do that which you have been commanded, Insha’Allah you shall find me among the patient ones.” (37:102)

Prophet finally took the step to follow what was being instructed, he blindfolded himself before sacrificing his son to ease the pain and stop him from getting swayed away by emotions while sacrificing his son. But ‘God is great’ and can never see its deity in pain. When Prophet opened his blindfold he saw his son sound and safe standing next to him and a lamb was sacrificed instead. 

Ever since then Eid-al-Adha is celebrated in the month of Dhul Hijjah and Muslims perform ‘Qurbani’ (sacrifice) of goat, sheep, and camel to commemorate the eminence of Allah and show their faith in Islam. The day starts with reading ‘Namaz’ (players) followed by Qurbani and then sharing the feast with friends and family. 

“And never give up hope of ALLAH’s Mercy. Certainly, no one despairs of ALLAH’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.”(Al-Qur’an 12:87)

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How to Start Yoga When You Have Never Done It Before

Yoga has now become a common terminology worldwide, with approximately 300 million people practicing yoga on regular basis. The roots of this widely appreciated art of mind and body can be traced back to over 5000 years ago in the northern part of India. Yoga is a blend of body postures and movements, maintaining breathing patterns and connecting to your brain. 

If you thought of starting yoga, you have already taken the first step toward your journey. There must be a thousand questions in your mind about the same! How to get into Yoga? Will my body be able to adapt to Yoga? How to manage my breathing? And much more. It is understandable but fret not. The best way to learn yoga is by ‘practicing’ it. So do not shy away from taking some help in getting started with Yoga, just dive into it!

Calm your mind and don’t compare yourself

Yoga goes way beyond just exercising, it is a very distinctive experience and differs from person to person. The first thing you need to do is calm your mind and tell yourself that it is going to be absolutely fine. Secondly, do not compare your body and flexibility to others. Everyone was a beginner once. Just take a deep breath and start stretching. 

Be slow and steady

The key to a joyful journey is not keeping any impractical expectations. If you think “I should be able to put my legs behind my neck” on the first day itself then you will face nothing but utter disappointment. Yoga postures are renowned for looking easier in pictures and way harder when it comes to actually doing them. Do not get ahead of yourself or you might end up getting hurt or twisting your ribs. Slow and steady wins the race! 

Take a note of how you breathe

Yoga is connecting your mind and body and observing your breathing is a way of doing that. You need to be aware of the breathing pattern that you are following. For instance, if you are taking a deep breath and exhaling it gradually, you should feel this is relaxing your mind as well as body. Or while doing Anulom Vilom Pranayama, you should be able to connect your mind to aggressive and fast-paced breathing. 

Learn one posture at a time

Holding yoga poses can be a huge task for a beginner. So start with simple postures and eventually get into the complex ones. Furthermore, team your mind to get comfortable with stillness. You might be able to do a yoga pose in no time but holding it for a minute or two can be an excruciating task especially when you are not used to the calmness that yoga brings along. 

Just chill! 

Yoga is about relaxation. So end your yoga session with Shavasana; just don’t sleep ?! And enjoy the rest of the day with a mind filled with calmness and a body full of vigor. 

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Mayamma The Indian Drag Queen

‘Drag’, does the word ring a bell? You must have seen videos of drag artists and might even have seen drag queens’ performances on social media platforms. But what is it really? Drag is one of the most underrated art forms and is not embraced in several nations even today including India. In simple terms, drag means wearing clothes characteristically of the opposite sex and performing. Like every other art form, it requires enthusiasm, passion, and utmost hard work. Alex Mathew exhibited all three skills and became India’s most popular drag performer at the age of 28 years.

Alex Mathew hails from South India and initially wanted to become a Broadway performer. He practiced theater and sang karaoke at bars but he was still never satisfied with it. He felt a creative outlet was missing in his performances and that’s when the mother of illusion, ‘Mayamma’, his drag character was born. Alex was heavily inspired by Robin Williams, but his journey wasn’t as smooth as he anticipated it to be. Mayamma was mocked as a crossdresser (hijra) and his sexuality was often questioned. But none of it could put Mayamma down. Alex proudly admits that drag helped him clutch onto his true identity.

Alex now runs a web show ‘Chaiya with Maya’ where he talks about his Broadway dream and many other crucial matters like gender equality, exploring one’s all aspects of personality, and individualism all in a witty style. Alex is the epitome of following one’s passion regardless of what others have to say about it. He has broken several stereotypes and established that drag is an art form and there is nothing erroneous in either enjoying it or performing it. 

 

Alex is the Indian Drag queen chasing his dream and inspiring many others!

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The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

The art that was once unsavory for being too ‘prudish’ is now being celebrated because of two men, Charles W. Leslie and Fritz Lohman. Who not only gave recognition to homoerotic art but also successfully established the first-ever gay art museum. ‘The Leslie-Lohman museum of gay and lesbian art’ is located at one of the finest places in New York City, SOHO, Manhattan.

Leslie and Lohman were life partners who gathered gay art for several years and then showcased it for the first time ever in 1969 in their loft at Prince Street. The overwhelming response from the audience towards this ‘unambiguously gay’ art propelled them to open a commercial art gallery in the 1980s in SOHO. But during the early 1980s, they had to focus on safeguarding the art instead of fostering it in the advent of the AIDS pandemic which was thrashing the gay art community.

Love is too beautiful to be hidden in the closet and so is art. And Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art is giving a space to both.

As the masses were still lacking awareness about the differing sexualities, they were neither acknowledging the gay art nor the sexuality of the artists. Leslie & Lohman now needed an oasis for this art which then drove the couple to establish a non-profit foundation to support gay art in 1987. In 2011, this NGO was awarded the status of ‘official museum’ by the New York State Board of Regents making it the first accredited gay art museum in the world.

The museum consists of paintings, photographs, drawings, and sculptures. It features the work of 1,900+ artists and has an active archive of 24,000 art pieces. Over the years the museum had strictly adhered to its theme and had helped people explore their sexualities, feel heard and valued, and also gave the queer community a sense of inclusiveness.

The Leslie-Lohman art museum is a story of romance that preserved 50 years of LGBTQ art, which would have otherwise vanished!

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World Book Day: A Toast to Beguiling Elusiveness of Books

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” 

 

Does it ever occur to you what life would have been like without books? Well, certainly it would be a lot less colorful! Every year April 23 brings the ‘World Book Day’ along with it. The day is a reminder of how ‘books are uniquely portable magic.’ You must think, it is because you can carry them around. But really it is because they take you to a different dimension. World Book Day embarks an occasion to celebrate the unending pleasures of reading as well as writing. Unlike any other day, Book Day did not have a universal theme. Pondering why? Here’s your answer. 

 

Books provoke out-of-the-world thoughts, then why limit the day dedicated to them to just one rumination. In 1995 on the death anniversary of William Shakespeare and prominent Spanish chronicler Inca Garcilaso de la Vega UNESCO started the legacy of celebrating world book day. Now, over 100 countries have joined in to embark on the surrealness of books and their significance in ones’ life.   

 

It is a day to commemorate all the great authors and their work for giving us an immortal piece of art. Writing and reading are two activities that bind together different individuals, personalities, interests, and experiences. The contentment you get from reading a book cannot be found anywhere else on the face of the earth. So, explore the unexplored with the amulet of words laid down on crispy fresh pages.